Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here On Gilligan's Isle!

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale........

We went to Gilligan's Island this week! Actually, it's really called Coconut Island and Gilligan's Island was not filmed there.

Well, the opening scene of the show was filmed there. You know the part where they show an aerial view of the SS Minnow beached in the lagoon? THAT is Coconut Island off the coast of Oahu. The rest of the show was filmed in a studio in Hollywood.

But I was thrilled, thrilled I tell you, to be visiting the uncharted desert isle where the Minnow was beached. I watched Gilligan's Island every single day after school for years. If there were a Trivial Pursuit game which only asked questions about that show, I would kick butt.

Today, the island is the home of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology which is part of the University of Hawaii. We set up a field trip for our homeschool group to take a tour. A three hour tour. Heh heh. We set out on this little boat which ferried us over to the island. All the kids in the group seemed to think this was the highlight of the day.

We were split into three groups. Ben, Emily, and Katie were each in a different group; I wound up in Katie's group. That's why I only have pictures of her, it's not because I love her more or anything. Not at the moment anyway. She was pretty obnoxious earlier. But I digress......
We were shown various experiments that they are researching on the island. This one had a cool little flower in it. When someone poked it with a finger, it vanished immediately into the coral it was growing on.

Then we were taken down to a body of water where the kids raked up a type of seaweed to perform experiments on.

We had to root through the seaweed and remove any live critters in there as quickly as possible and put them in bowls of water to keep them alive. There were little tiny fish, little tiny crabs, something called a squirt which shot water out at us, and little starfish called Brittle Stars which crawled around really fast.

It turns out, this seaweed is not native to Hawaii, it was introduced to the area in modern times. It promptly started to smother and kill the coral reefs and all the creatures that live in the coral reefs. So one of the jobs of the people who work there is to go out on a boat and send scuba divers down to the coral reefs with a big suction hose and suck up all the invasive seaweed they can. Then the biologists on the boat sort out the live creatures just like we did and send the back down to the coral reefs but keep the seaweed.

The seaweed is then sent to taro farmers who let the rain rinse the salt out of it and then use it to fertilize their fields. Very organic.

We then were taken to a lab where we were able to look at microbes which are normally found in the ocean water. If I get violently ill in the next week, tell the doctors it was a marine amoeba.

We also got to visit a pond which had manta rays, puffer fish, and various sharks and fish in it. They pulled out the jawbone and teeth of a shark to let the kids hold. There were an amazing amount of teeth in that thing.

Katie got to hold a shark tooth that was almost as big as her face! This was definitely a very cool field trip. Everyone should go on a trip like this!

I wouldn't even have minded being stranded there for quite a while.

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